T-Mobile just took the wraps off its latest Un-carrier move, and it’s not what anyone was expecting. Instead of rolling out changes to its phone plans or a new TV streaming service, T-Mobile is radically changing the structure of its customer service department.
The new initiative is called “Team of Experts,” and at its core, it’s a 30-40-strong team of dedicated customer service representatives who will serve each account. That means when you call T-Mobile’s customer service, you’ll be directly connected with someone from your own “Team of Experts” without going through an automated voice recognition system, or in theory without being transferred around between departments.
From the sounds of things, T-Mobile is going to solve two of the real pain points for customers with Team of Experts: customers will get directly through to a human when they call customer support, and that human will be one one member of a small(ish) team that doesn’t change. Lines will be open 24/7, and T-Mobile is also taking communication outside of just phone calls: There’s also asynchronous messaging in iMessage and the T-Mobile app, so you can send a live chat message, close the app, and come back to it whenever you want.
Of course, there are going to be trade-offs, like wait times. One big reason that most companies nationally pool their call-center resources is because it can help keep wait times to a minimum. Unless T-Mobile is planning on having thousands of customer service reps sitting idle most of the time, wait times for your local team are going to exist. T-Mobile says that it’s going to solve that by giving you a choice of how you wait for service, and says that the default option will be a call-back, rather than letting you wait on hold.
Team of Experts goes live nationally today, although there’s still an option to use an automated system if you prefer. Better customer service isn’t traditionally the kind of change that’s been able to attract hundreds of thousands of new customers, but with the focus in telecoms on reducing “churn,” or turnover of customers, better customer service could really help existing customers to stick around.
“‘Your call is important to us’ are the six emptiest words ever robo-spoken,” said John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile. “People are fed up with horrible customer service that puts cost control ahead of customer happiness. While other brands mechanize customer service, we’re going the other way – no bots, no bouncing, no BS. With Team of Experts, we’re tearing up the traditional playbook, killing the phone menu and putting people at the center of customer care, like they should be. Because at T-Mobile, our customers have always been rock stars to us.”